Stereotypically, girls are supposed to love wearing pink, braiding their hair and playing with dolls.
In that case, I was - and still am - a frankly terrible representative of the fairer sex. Between the ages of four and eight, I lived in stripy leggings and boys' jumpers, usually emblazoned with some sort of cartoon dinosaur. I hated pink. My hair was a mess; I refused to brush it, much to my mother's despair. And there wasn't a Barbie in sight. Instead, I would spend hours playing with stuffed animals, pretending to be an expert vet in a busy veterinary surgery.
There was a time in which I was convinced I would transform these role-plays into reality: I have always loved animals, and so becoming a vet seemed like a perfect career path. That was until I realised just how incredibly tough a vet's job is - emotionally, physically and academically speaking. Being terrible at all things scientific or mathematical wasn't the only hurdle. It was also knowing that my patients, some of whom sadly wouldn't survive, wouldn't just be anonymous animals. They would be people's beloved pets.
Pets are an especially personal thing. They come in all shapes and sizes: from fluffy rabbits to wrinkly tortoises and restless hamsters. Some people love cats, others prefer dogs. Big or small, young or old, cute or ugly; one thing they all have in common is the hugely important role they play in everyday life.
And 'everyday' means exactly that: every, single, day. Even when it's raining outside, my dog will still want to go for a walk. Just because it's less-than-freezing temperatures outside, it doesn't mean that I can stay inside, wrap up inside a blanket and wait for spring to arrive; first, I have to make sure that the horses are warm, fed and happy. Owning a pet teaches you so many lessons: patience, kindness, commitment. selflessness, too: being entirely responsible for another being, be they furry or feathery, shows you how important it is to think of others before yourself.
Despite the inevitable hard work, having a pet can be one of life's most rewarding experiences. Anyone who has ever come home after a rubbish day to be greeted by an impatient bark, a frantically wagging tail and subsequent canine-cuddles knows that there is no sadness a dog can't cure. Even at your worst, they still love you, unconditionally.
Well, unconditionally on the condition that you always have a steady supply of biscuits. But that seems a small price to pay!
Have you ever had a pet? Would you like a pet? Have you got a funny story about your pet?